As prime minister Narendra Modi officially dedicated the Statue of Unity to the nation today, a section of people, mostly from the left-liberal group, intensified their criticism of the iconic project. In attacking the statue, they also indulged in whataboutery, reminding how ‘bhakts’ had criticised statues that Mayawati had built as UP chief minister and memorials of Gandhi-Nehru family members.
They also say that the statue cost too much money which could have spent better some other welfare project. The liberals also complain that BJP is trying to appropriate the legacy of Sardar Ballavbhai Patel, who was a Congress leader, and who ironically had banned RSS at one point in time.
It is unfathomable how can someone compare statue of the iron man of India built almost 70 years after his death to the dozens of statues that Mayawati had built during her own lifetime. And no, people didn’t attack Mayawati for building B R Ambedkar statues, most of the criticism was aimed at statues of Mayawati herself, and her party’s election symbol, the Elephant. And it was not that only ‘bhakts’ criticised the Mayawati statues, it was criticised by people from all political ideologies, including prominent journalists.
In fact, those ‘bhakts’ and eminent journalists shared the same feelings, no problem with parks and Ambedkar statues, but why build your own statues, that too so many?
Have no issues with Mayawati building an Ambedkar memorial, but why build your own statues?
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) October 14, 2011
However, Rajdeep has sung a different tune day, perhaps because it is the Modi government that has built and inaugurated the statue of liberty.
This is truly age of ‘bhakti’ or hero worship! The many voices who attacked Mayawati for building Ambedkar statues and Nehru Gandhis for building family memorials are now finding unique ways to endorse Patel statue! Isse kehte hain Mumbai mein ‘double dholki’!! #StatueOfUnity
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) 31 October 2018
It is actually unbelievable that someone would compare Statue of Unity with Gandhi-Nehru family memorials. The criticism for the later is that there are too many of them. During Congress government, all government programs, schemes, institutions, infrastructure were only named after someone or other from the family, other than Mahatma Gandhi. Even though Congress party itself had several tall leaders in its long history, they were always ignored.
We had an IIM named after Rajiv Gandhi, we have national parks named after persons of the family. We have so many Nehru stadiums in the country that it actually gets confusing. There are thousands of statues of the Nehru family members in the country. Liberals also say that bhakts complain about Teen Murti Bhawan made Nehru memorial, which was Jawaharlal’s Nehru’s house. But the fact is, it was not an ancestral property of Nehru, it was built by British India government using public money, which was made official residence of PM after independence.
The cost argument is the most ridiculous one by far. It is argued that too much money is being spent on the statue. Well, this argument is made every time a big project comes up, not just a statue. Be it a high-speed train project, a space exploration program, or something else, there will always be someone who will say that it is a waste of money which would better be spent on building hospitals and schools. The sectors like health and education, that liberals say should get all the money, are not suffering due to lack of money. The combined budget of central and state governments in public welfare projects are enormous, and it’s not that government has deducted money from other essential sectors for the statue.
Majority of the cost of the statue is borne by the Gujarat government, as around ₹2400 crore has come from the state, out of total ₹3000 crore total cost. The project is not just a statue, there are several tourist attractions included in the project. In includes convention hall, amusement park, visitor centres, memorial garden, hotel, research centre, library etc.
Gujarat is already a top tourist destination in the nation with its historical monuments, and it is expected that the Statue of Unity will become a must visit place in the schedule of tourists. Over time, the statue will recover its cost, and due to the visit of both domestic and international tourists, the local economy will also flourish. The project will also provide direct and indirect employment to hundreds of people.
During its long rule, Congress failed to appropriately honour the great leaders of the country who brought us independence. Congress prime ministers were busy giving Bharat Ratna awards to themselves, so it was left to BJP government to honour non-Nehru family leaders of the freedom struggle. If people argue that other leaders our nation need not be honoured, then we have nothing to say.
The contribution of Patel or Bose was no less than the contribution of Nehru and Gandhi in the freedom struggle, and the current government is also only doing what should have been done decades ago.
Some also argue that why ‘bhakts’ hate Nehru but love Patel, both Congress leaders. There is a probable reason for that. There is a perception that just after independence while forming our country, Patel did a much better job than Nehru. It is argued that Sardar Patel integrated Hyderabad into the union of India smoothly, while Nehru blundered in Kashmir, the consequence of which is still being suffered by the country.